Imágenes de páginas

Teutonic tribe whose people in Cæsar's time possessed the mainland of Europe from the Rhine to the Seine. This tribe, crossing the channel, settled in the southern part of Britain, inhabiting that region which to-day comprises Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Somersetshire. But over the rest of the land, even to the adjacent country Ierne (modern Ireland), the Celtic was the dominating race. Certain Gallic tribes inhabited eastern Britain, and to the north controlling the basin of the Clyde and its vicinity, lived the Cymry, a Bryttuonic branch (Welsh-Breton) of the Celts. Possibly a few Saxons, or Frisians, also dwelt on the eastern shores of Britain.

The descent of Cæsar's troops upon the southern shore brought about a confederation of these tribes to repel the Roman attack, but to little purpose. Cæsar had come, had seen, and had conquered. For nearly five hundred years thereafter Roman arms and Roman civilization controlled Britain.


Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this Roman occupation is that the language, the law, and the literature of the Romans left only slight traces in the land. A corrupt Latin was spoken, no doubt, in towns under Roman control. It may even have displaced the native tongue in Kent, yet it is not to this period, but to a much later one, that we must trace the infusion of Latin words into our language. The final establishment of Roman law in the

2 The words "Veni, vidi, vici" are frequently misstated to have been applied by Cæsar to his expedition to Britain in B.C. 55. There is no basis for the statement. According to Suetonius, the words were displayed before Cæsar's title, at the public celebration, in Rome, of his victories in Pontus, not as a record of the events of the war, but as illustrating the rapidity with which the campaign was carried on. The words are not ascribed to Cæsar by Suetonius. Plutarch, in his Life of Cæsar, says that in describing to Amintus the rapidity of his campaign against Pharnaces in Pontus (B.C. 47) Cæsar used only three words-"Veni, vidi, vici.”

land is not to be traced to this time, although it is possible that the British people owe the organization of municipal institutions and town governments to the Romans.

The withdrawal of the Roman soldiery by Honorius practically left the natives to defend themselves against the Picts and the Scots, who, scaling the walls that had been built to keep them out, swarmed across the northern border, and attacked the Cymry, whom they drove upon the Gaels in North Wales. The Gaels withdrew to the fertile midland region, and destroyed the towns of the Roman provincials as they went. There are two accounts of what followedthe Celtic and the Saxon. The commonly accepted account is the Saxon story related by Bede and the "Saxon Chronicle."

Vortigern, a British chieftain, himself unable to cope with the Picts and Scots, sought the aid of the Ethelings, Hengest and Horsa, to repel them. These princes, giving heed to Vortigern's call for help, set sail for Britain in three chiules or war-keels. Aboard of these were warriors representing three tribes-the Jutes, the Angles, and the Saxons -who, soon after landing (A.D. 449), routed the invading hordes, and settled down to enjoy the fruits of their victory. The Jutes established themselves in Kent, and new arrivals rapidly increased their ranks. This incursion so alarmed the Britons that they refused to provide food for the invaders, who, joining forces with the Picts, turned against the Britons, and gained their first victory over them by forcing the passage of the Medway at Aylesford. This defeat was followed by another at the passage of the Cray, when the Britons were driven back and fled in terror to London. Then, collecting their scattered forces, they renewed the attack and soon regained much of the land that

they had lost, but not before the invaders had firmly established themselves in the north of Kent and on its eastern and southern shores. On the arrival of reinforcements, Hengest and Aesc, taking the aggressive, attacked and totally defeated the Britons at Wippedesfleot (identified as Ebbsfleet in Thanet). So overwhelming was this defeat that the Britons found it impossible to save Northern Kent, and, abandoning it, withdrew to the southern shore, where for a time they held their own.

In 477 Ella, or, as his name is sometimes written, Aelle, accompanied by his three sons, Cymen, Whencing, and Cissa, landed at Cymenesora, in Sussex, a place which G. M. Lappenberg3 identifies with Keynor in Selsea. He fought a hard but indecisive battle with the Britons, which led him to send for reinforcements. On their arrival he attacked and captured the Roman fortress, Anderida, and burned the town (491). "Aelle and Cissa beset Anderida," so reads the chronicle of the conquerors, "and slew all that were therein, nor was there afterwards one Briton left. With this pitiless victory Ella broke the British power in Sussex and founded the kingdom of the South Saxons. This kingdom had scarcely been established when another band of Saxons, the Genissas, under the leadership of Cerdic, and his son Cymric, landed (495) at the place which is called Cerdicesora, placed by Green "on the shores of Southampton water." Cerdic's proposed campaign of conquest was not immediately successful. He had made a landing and held it, but before victory crowned his arms he was compelled to seek alliance with Aesc and Ella. The defeat of the Britons followed and culminated in a decisive victory

"History of England Under the Anglo-Saxon Kings."

4 J. R. Green, "A History of the English People," ch. i.

for Cerdic at Charford in 519. This ended the struggle, and "Cerdic and Cymric obtained the kingdom of the West Saxons."

There are no records of the time or manner of the invasion of Essex. Its reduction is attributed to a prince of the Uffingas, a descendant of Uffa, King of East Anglia, from whom all the kings of the East Angles are said to have been descended.5 Notwithstanding the active and vigorous part taken by the Jutes and the Saxons in the subjugation of Britain, the chief part fell to the Angles (Engles), a tribe that was destined to absorb both the Jutes and the Saxons, and so to impress itself upon the descendants of the union of the three tribes as to leave an indelible impression on the history of the world.

The exact date when the Angles settled on the shores of Northumbria is not known, nor are the details of the invasion that led to this settlement. Green says: "The Engle had probably been settling for years along the coast of Northumbria and the great district which was cut off from the rest of Britain by the Wash and the Fens, the later East Anglia." The "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" relates of the northern part of Northumbria, that Ida the Torch-bearer assumed the kingdom of Northumbria (Bernicia) in the year 547. Bernicia lay between the Forth and the Tyne, and embraced the eastern coast land. The Angles who had migrated there steadily pushed their way westward, but the progress made was slight, for the winning of the west proved slow work. It was not until Ida united the various settlements of that region into one kingdom that the Angles made headway. But no sooner had they subdued the Britons than they turned their attention to the subjuga

Bede, "Historia Ecclesiastica."

tion of their fellow countrymen who had settled in Deira, which lay to the south of them.

Deira, which ultimately became a part of Northumbria, extended from the Tees, or the Tyne, to the Humber, and spread inland to the borders of Strathclyde. It was colonized probably by several tribes, each under a different leader. These tribes, uniting eventually, formed the Kingdom of Deira, to the throne of which Ella came in 560. He reigned for twenty-eight years, and extended his domain to the very border of Bernicia, but at his death Ethelric (Ethelric) of Bernicia drove Ella's son Edwin out of Deira and usurped the country (588). Edwin then sought refuge with Redwald, King of the East Angles, who subsequently (617) helped him to defeat Ethelric and regain his territory. But it was not until the reign of Oswy, a son of Ethel frith (Ethel frith') that the two kingdoms, Bernicia and Deira, were permanently united, being merged into Northumbria (670). The union seems to have lasted until the appearance of the Danes, among whom Deira was partitioned in 876. As a political division, Deira became extinct with the Norman Conquest.

Mercia was the name of a great Anglian kingdom in the midlands of Britain. The exact date of its settlement is unknown, but has been approximated to the latter half of the sixth century (582). Its first king, Cridda, died in 600. The original Anglian settlers, owing to their proximity to the unconquered Welsh, received the name of Mercians, or "Men of the March." The Mercians were as successful in their military activity as in their industrial progress, and at one time Wessex, Kent, Essex, and Sussex

Green's "A History of the English People."

T. A. Archer, "Dictionary of English History."

« AnteriorContinuar »